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MS Anti-Trust Litigation - The Case For Standards 155

Ken Krechmer writes "Microsoft Anti-Trust Litigation - The Case for Standards is the title of an article which won first prize this year at World Standards Day. Since it offers a somewhat different proposed resolution of the Microsoft litigation, you may find it interesting. See to read and post if desired (it is available for free republication with attribution shown)." Not sure I agree with all of the conclusions, but the piece is very thoughtfully argued and constructed.
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MS Anti-Trust Litigation - The Case for Standards

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is no incentive for any operating system provider to embrace and promote an industry standard open API. That is true of *nix providers as well as MS. There are now multiple porting tools to help application providers recompile their industry standard open unix API code on MS Windows. Some tool sets are better than others. Do you think that any current *nix provider would help promote that? Of course not. MS should promote it, but they mistakingly are afraid to.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This Story [] has been totally ignored by Slashdot. A geek lost it when the IRS was about to start garnishing his wages, went nuts and brought a shotgun to work and killed 7 people.

    Was a few dollars in taxes worht the IRS provoking this incident?

    It's no different than police initiating high speed chases that results in innocents getting killed.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Has the government ever said anything about federalizing any protocols or standards? Anywhere... EVER? I don't know if I've ever seen anything like this outside of the Microsoft scare tactics used to manufacture an evil more easily defined than Microsoft's de facto facist control over interfaces.

    Don't worry about thinking different, just think for yourself!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This discussion may be a moot point because the election has changed the landscape for anti-trust to the point where there may be no action at all against Microsoft.
    See the New York Times article [] on the developments with Ascroft as Attorney General.
  • Excuse me, a guy decides to kill seven people, and you blame the IRS? Yes, the guy was about to have his wages garnisheed. That's because he hadn't paid his taxes (something all USians with income above certain levels are required to do). Note that the IRS gave him a grace period till after the holidays, to try and minimize the stress.

    So you're suggesting the IRS shouldn't come after anyone who doesn't pay their taxes, because they may commit murder? Right.
    <sarcasm> Don't enforce the law, he might commit murder for you enforcing the law! What's next, not enforcing laws on bank robbery because the robber may kill people on getaway? Don't enforce speeding, someone may get pissed off and kill people!

    And yes, it is different than police initiated high speed chases - the police(and the IRS) killed no one here, the McDermott did.

  • Accounting is old.

    Software is new.

    I don't believe, however, that they are fundamentally different.
    Accounting is about keeping track of a lot of data, doing a lot of math, and following precise sequences of instructions in order to correctly
    process the data and get the result desired..

    If we were talking sociology, or religeon, I would agree that they are fundamentally different from software. But accounting... no.

    Everyone seems so convinced that software standards change fast because that is somehow their nature. But really, if you step back and think about it, other than one or two types of virus, software does not change it's interfaces/behavior by itself. At least, not much so far. It takes _people_ to change all this stuff, and the frequency with which they do so is based on their own personal motivations and quirks. I believe this is a self-reinforcing myth.

    Do we want this continual turmoil of newer and bigger and better standards in software forever?? I believe that like most other technologies, most common types of software will reach a stage where they are 90% perfect and the cost of continuing to update them and break compatibility with older systems will not be worth the effort, and although minor updates, security fixes, and the like would happen, for the most part, you could take a computer and install a bunch of software on it, and then just __use__ it for years without worrying about upgrading the software, operating system, browser, or their intercompatibility.

    I mean, Toasters can do this!

    Someday, maybe not in my lifetime, computers will be simple and easy to use. For real, not just in marketing speak (which translates back to english as " ").

    On the other hand, some types of software will never stop being changing, just like art and music will never stop changing.

    <i>I took my first programming class in Ada.</i>
  • When it comes to computers.....yes
  • Keep M$ right where they are while the rest of the world goes past 'em.

    So you are saying with all the money microsoft has, and with all the push they seem to create towards the internet, that we should let them tell the world that we should all use their new propriatary standards they have come up with for the internet? Oh, and by the way to use them you must use windows with internet explorer...

    I find the fact that people seem to forget that microsoft has been working towards making as much confusion on the net as possible. vbscript isn't something all browsers will run. They did their best to subvert and change java to be windows only. Took a law suit to stop that.

    If you really think M$ will sit by and just go away because they don't want to play nice, you are very wrong.

    A break up would do us all some good, including microsoft.
  • I agree, we do need standards. Linux could use a few more standards, actually I think linux needs a definition of what makes a distro linux. Of course this is just my opinion.

    As for M$ and standards, yes they did come up with some good things. I do give them credit for one major acheivement, this above everything else they have done, they figured out how to make an os that an idiot can use. My mother uses a computer with windows, if I handed her linux I bet she wouldn't touch it for more than a few min and never touch it again or be harrassing me forever on what to do with it.

    M$ has done some good for the computer world. Think in terms of advancements in the computer world. If we didn't have every moron out there buying a computer would we be seeing the continual advancement in hardware? Maybe, but large sales tend to promote more advancement, so you can have more sales. So M$ has unintentionally helped us all to a degree by getting the morons to buy computers.

    Now that we have many good standards to help us all work/communicate with each other. Lets keep things moving allong smoothly and rip M$ to peices before it has a chance to mess up what it has inadvertantly done.
  • Or LNUX?
    Sort of puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

  • Make that Dubious and Asscroft...

    sorry, couldn't resist that...

    bad troll...
  • File standards are important, and I agree that thats the #1 thing that detracts business from "competitors" to Microsoft... the inability to interoperate with Word/Excel. The constant upgrade cycle forces businesses to upgrade in order to stay "compliant" and in the loop.

    There needs to be a standards body for these types of documents. Make it an open standard, and get as many people to implement it as possible. Even Microsoft can read other companies formats... with enough pressure, you could possible even get them to use that as their standard...
  • Some of the points of this article - relating to the AT&T debacle - are the approach of a brainwashed Redmondite... "We have standardized telephone jacks, so therefore we need a standardized operating system".

    That is the sort of analogy that people make, and it's an extremely bad one. Telephone jacks are what connect multiple phones together, and a telephone is what a user uses.

    A better analogy would be, "We have standardised telephones, so we need a standardised operating system". Except, that analogy is based on a falsehood--we don't have standardised telephones. Some of us have red telephones, some of us have blue ones, there are ones that you strap to your head, there are corded and cordless ones, there are cellular telephones, there are telephones with littel caller-ID displays built right into them, there are ones with volume-boosting buttons, there are ones with key-pads for people with poo vision, there are autodialers, there pieces of software that act as telephones, and there are... many types of telephones.

    The way that the telephones interoperate, however, is standardised. So, let's use that as the basis of our analogy:

    "We have standardised interoperation mechanisms for our telephones, so we need standardised interoperation mechanisms for our operating systems."

    Protocols and file-formats.
    If my computer can communicate with everyone else's, because they all uses common data-interchange formats, then for what reasons would I--should I--care about what Joe-down-the-hall's operating environment looks like to him?

    Regardless of what it looks like to him, it's going to look the same to me, so it might as well look like whatever make Joe-down-the-hall most comfortable.
  • Since you seem convinced MS Office is leading cause it uses "special API calls", would you care to point out anything microsoft does in MS Office which seems IMPOSSIBLE to do in windows without secret API calls?

    Known example: Back in 1996, Powerpoint 4.0 (and an MS Outlook beta) used an undocumented method in Microsoft's 32-bit implementation of Winsock 1.1, which meant that if you used another vendor's implementation (ie. either Trumpet or FTP Software's), those programs would crash.

    Microsoft acknowledged the error when FTP pointed it out, and submitted a patch for Powerpoint; the call was also gone in the finished Outlook product.

    In this case, the Winsock standard is AFAIK administered by another company (Stardust) in agreement with Microsoft, FTP Software (early implementors of TCP/IP on DOS and Windows) and Sun (back when they were happier with Microsoft).

  • ASCII?

    Ever go to a website on your linux box and have most of the punctuation on the site be question marks? That's because Microsoft had their own character set for a while that wasn't quite ASCII. All web pages made in MS Word used it. I think they've fixed it now, but I don't have MS Word, so I can't check...

    You jest, but...

  • The big thing holding back non MS OS's is the fact that Microsoft keeps changing their file formats for Office apps. The majority of business users would not care what OS their computer ran, as long as they can work with MS Word and Excel files. By keeping the file format a running target, MS even creates incomatability between their own applications. Open file formats for key business apps would allow others (Word Perfect, Star Office, Nissus Writer, etc) to offer MS Office compatability (by this, I mean, seamless, no problem openning, no problem with formating, etc) and allow other OS's a foot in the door of the business desktop. Who cares if Microsoft gets broken up as long as it's 'possible' for other companies to compete with them.
  • Your comments about Microsoft document formats being de facto standards is correct (at least at this point in time - remember when WordPerfect was a standard?, or Lotus 123?, or Harvard Graphics?, etc., etc., etc.)

    The whole point of the article is that this is not a good way to create standards, because standards created in this way heavily favor the monopolist market leader and tend to stymie competition. Standards created this way also cause compatability problems even within users of that standard because the economic concerns of the standard creator (e.g., selling more upgrades) take precedence to the economic concerns of the users of the products. This is why almost no proprietary standards are even partially forward compatable.

    As a example, take HTML, which is a more-or-less open standard. I can open a modern web page using an older browser like Netscape 2 or even Mosaic. I will not see the formatting provided by the newer features of subsequent versions of the HTML standard, but I can at least open the document and see the information, even if it is not formatted correctly. With a Word, WordPerfect, or Excel document, you can't even open the document at all with an older version, even if there have been very few changes to the format.

    The article simply makes the point that it is the entire industry that should determine an open standard in preference to a single company determining a proprietary one.

    Now, often open industry standards work well, and sometimes they don't, I've seen it both ways. But the article proposes that forcing Microsoft (and other companies) to adhere to open industry standards would be a way of removing the "increasing returns" nature of the market and allow companies to compete without an artificial "natural monopoly" advantage.
  • I wonder about the whole article...

    "However in the 20th century, certain monopolies focused on providing the best product and price to their customers. Microsoft did just that, and judging from their economic success, they accomplished this extremely well."

    So because they are succesful, they must be putting out the best product at the best price? By this logic, why was Standard Oil, and AT&T broken up? MS doesn't have the best price. MacOS, Be, *BSD, and Linux all cost less. Which one is better is a another topic...but I don't like rebooting, so MS is the worse choice IMO. YMMV.
  • Well, I wish InfoWorld and the other trade journals had all their archives online, as I followed this "urban legend" while it was being originally reported...
  • There might be no action, true, but as the article says, it would look bad if they backed down from such a clear victory. Plus Ashcroft's appointment isn't exactly guaranteed - he's very conservative, Republicans don't have a strong majority in Congress, and above all, he lost his Senate race to a dead guy.

    How bad is that, anyway? Bush lost the popular vote, won Florida through a controversial Supreme Court ruling, and now he's trying to appoint someone who lost an election to a dead candidate as attorney general. You'd think he wouldn't go out of his way to make his job any harder...
  • >>Accouting is the most convoluted, outrageous set of standards and priciples that anyone ever could have dreamed up.
    Thanks. Without really understanding, I believe you. Now take a careful look at all the interfaces between pieces of computer systems. These include, as a smallish part, the automation of various rules, standards, etc of accounting. It's big, too big for any one entity to even keep up with it.
  • ... promote the general welfare ...
    >>Don't look to the government, you know they'll just screw it up.
    Too true, but it is the responsibility of the government to not screw it up.
  • Label Microsoft Office as NON-STANDARD SOFTWARE.
  • Agreed, except that the file formats for ALL office applications should be open. Essentially, he who owns the format own the data.
  • >>On topic with the original subject, however, I don't think anybody will be successful in forcing Microsoft to adhere to open standards. They can't do Kerberos right and they have a long history of nodding and saying they are going to do just what you ask them to, and then doing something else. Microsoft WANTS vendor lockin, and they NEED it for their business model to work. And they will continue to fight being brought into a competitive marketplace with every tool at their disposal, including out and out lies and disregard for government orders.
    Yep. Microsoft was at the right place at the right time, but I don't think they _can_ compete on a level playing field.
  • by schon ( 31600 )
    ASCII and UTF are supported by Microsoft in their original forms

    Umm, no.

    Ever visit a website that was created with MS products? Ever visit it with non-MS OS/browser? Take a ?close look? at why things that should contain apostrophe?s has question marks instead?

    It's because MS has it?s own version of ASCII, that?s not compatable with real ASCII.

    But really, this just underlies the bigger issue: MS can't make their software standards-compatable, even when they write the standard themselves.. witness PPTP - a MS protocol from day one.

    According to the standards paper, a PPTP server can't accept multiple concurrent connections from a single client (which makes sense - it's a tunneling protocol).. however one PPTP server that exists does allow it - and guess who's version it is? - MICROSOFT's!
  • The ARB is an industry-based standards body, much like those that set standards for video equipment, mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, etc. The fact that the ARB isn't a government organization has nothing (as far as I can tell) to do with the observation that MS has a poor record for supporting open-standard APIs.
  • I note that none of the examples you mention involve APIs. Microsoft has a long history of ignoring, marginalizing, or using its monopoly to sabotage open standards for such things.

    For an example, you can review the OpenGL vs. Direct3D history. []

  • you can't dual boot 2k?

    really? its not that i dont believe you, but do you have a reference?

  • I apologize in advance for being so damn offtopic... But don't you think this is a good time to use that "Don't apply +1"? I'm glad this comment was so important to warrant the score boost.
  • Standards contain definitions that tell one how to implement them. For instance, the meter is defined as a particular number of oscillations of a particular wavelength of light. Furthermore, the standard details what substance needs to be excited in a specific fashion to produce that light. Now that is a standard. It is nonetheless a standard even though most people in the US don't use it (though it is everywhere else).

    Tell me, where do I find out how to make my own import filter for Word (one that will actually WORK that is)? Microsoft's "standards" are only standards WITHIN Microsoft. They are closed implementations to everyone else. Popularity has NOTHING to do with what is and is not a standard.
  • <I> With luck, there'll never be a M$ product ported to any version of Unix (OS X) or Linux or to any other platform than the x86. </I>

    Sorry, your luck ran out several years ago. If you want to, you can fine IE for UNIX. I don't think you want to, so I'll forgo the link. But it's there.
  • No, no, no, no, no!!

    You have this backwards. It's not whether or not MS provides a Web browser that conforms to open standards like HTML that were created outside MS, although others responding here have pointed out the "embrace and extend" technique. It's that MS, as a "monopoly" on the desktop OS, controls a set of interfaces (APIs) that all applications developers must conform to. And the main point of the original paper is that MS doesn't document them well and changes them at will.

    Point: There's an entire magazine, whose name I forget but from whom I receive subscription ads regularly, whose complete editorial policy is to publish articles documenting cases where MS's implementation of the API differs from MS's own specification. They've been in business for years. If you've written Windows code, you have no doubt run into system calls that work properly on one version of Windows and not on a different version. I know I have.

    Point: It's fairly well established by people using debuggers that some MS applications make system calls that are not documented. Assuming those calls confer some advantage (like they replace a broken call with a working one), then MS developers have an unfair advantage over everyone else.

    Point: Each new version of Windows contains a large set of new system calls. These are not published in an open fashion in advance, but selected developers are allowed early access. If they were developed in an open fashion, they might very well be structured quite differently since many experts disagree with "the MS approach" to some OS functions.

    Point: MS is currently free to move code back and forth across the dividing line between operating system (the running operating system) and applications. The HTML rendering from IE is the most celebrated example of this.

    Point: File formats can be (and are) changed arbitrarily. MS provides online documentation of, for example, the Word file format, but you have to accept terms that specify you may not use the information to build a competing product in order to download the doc.

  • In the 64-bit version of Windows Whistler, it replaces the MBR partition table with something called the GPT GUID Partition Table. It's major purpose is to do away with the limitations of the Master Boot Record and the various ways hard drive manufacturers use hidden sectors. It it is also a way to to eliminate any other OS to be installed, and it can also be used as a cheap way of doing copy protection as well.

    Windows 2000 has something called Dynamic Disks. If you wanted to create a volume set, or a RAID partition in NT 4.0, you just simply did it. Now in 2000 you have to convert your disks to a Dynamic disk to use the fault tolerance options. However if convert to Dynamic Disk, you can no longer allow other OS's to see that whole harddrive.

  • First of all, all those dollar signs really make you look intelligent.

    Now, you say MS Office needs to be seperate from VC++ and VB. Well it is. Office is only integrated with VBA (its macro/scripting envirometn) - which BTW, you are able to integrate into your own applications (Wordperfect is integrated into VBA).

    VC++ is a development envioroment, I hardly see how it has to do with publishing the full APIs like you imply (from your silly OS compiler commment).

    VC++ comes with MFC, the class library set microsoft use to write Office in. If you would just look, you'd find out MFC is free, and comes with source code. The VC++ wizard also lets you produce applications that conveniently allow document embedding just like Office.

    Since you seem convinced MS Office is leading cause it uses "special API calls", would you care to point out anything microsoft does in MS Office which seems IMPOSSIBLE to do in windows without secret API calls?

    Can you backup your claims?

    I'm sure there are exported dll functions that are in windows which aren't documented. But that means they aren't APIs. They are used internally by windows - or aren't yet finalized so can't be published for developer use. That is fine, and only is a problem if you can prove other microsoft products (office in this case) use these undocumented API calls. Spying on the API calls Office makes, I've seen no such thing.

    If you could somehow find these secret apis that office uses, you'd have to show that these secret APIs somehow help ms office - and disadvantage corel office or star office (note: star office on windows has just as much, if not more more power than star office on linux).

    For example, the api call isn't simply a utility dll function that reverses a string. (that wouldn't be impossible to do in windows if microsoft didn't supply the API).
  • what a load of crap

    Maybe netscape should have tried speeding up their browser by writing a better rendering engine. Just like ie, opera and mozilla has.

    Netscape's speed problem has very little to do with winsock or secret apis.

    I maybe pro microsoft. But I don't talk about absolute crap.
  • Just replying to your title. VC++ and VB are just the language and compiler. They have nothing to do with using the hidden APIs. If I knew what the API calls were, I could use any language/compiler combo that is compatible with the Operating System to access the "hidden" APIs.
  • Do we really want our government defining and enforcing protocols and standards for operating systems, desktop software and networking protocols?

    I certainly don't. However, maybe a legal definition of what a "standard" is would be in order. That way Microsoft couldn't legally claim their products are standards compliant. They would either have to join the standards camp, or be known as the non-standard software company. As it is, they talk about "Microsoft Standards", an oxymoron people have accepted blindly.

  • What's the point of "opening up the standard" if there is no reference implementation. Closed source does not a reference implementation make. For the interfaces to be specified in a usable way, they must be normative, and not simply descriptive. This would require formal specification, either through example code or the use of a formal specification technique, and then compliance would be decided by ensuring the correctness of the behavior.

    This would have the effect of requiring microsoft to either (1) open up some of the internals of one of its current operating systems or (2) provide a "naive" yet correct implementation of everything in windows. Either way is fine for me. What is not satisfactory is the idea of just publishing the MSDN documentation and calling that an interface specification. It's useful information, but it is not a spec.

    I am not so sure that microsoft would be able to give real specifications of what all of their APIs actually do without releasing their source code. Just look at their bug lists. They have no idea what's going on in there anymore.

  • ... they could just write 100 random bytes to any non-Windows partition every so often. Eventually, users would decide that Linux was too unstable to have around.
  • It's very simple: he's already taken their money, and they look to be heading for financial trouble. Bush's people are a lot more concerned with appeasing business in _general_ than spending precious and bitterly contested political capital in bailing out a haughty monopoly.

    Here is what to expect: "If _I'd_ been running the show when the whole thing started, this never would have happened!"

    Microsoft are not going to be rescued by Bush. Microsoft is slated to be the bad example- "look what happens when these left wing pinkos get their way!". I would be very surprised if Bush's people don't appreciate the potential benefits of allowing the (difficult to overturn) antitrust case to go through- they may possibly even be counseling the Supreme Court to go ahead and hose Microsoft rather than be partisan again on behalf of Bush's interests. It makes for potentially a very good argument to avoid breaking up or regulating _other_ monopolies that are less financially overextended, more capable of massive kickbacks. Microsoft is rationing freaking paper clips at this point: Ballmer is trying to instill a new culture of economy. Do you know what that means to Bush's people? "This one's empty- time to let it drop and start sucking on another"

    That's business.

    Get ready to start doing things without Microsoft, because they are in for a very _hard_ fall: I don't think they believe they will be thrown away like a used candy wrapper. They believe passionately, fanatically, in the _principle_ of full-throttle unregulated free-market capitalism. Unfortunately, politics is about expediency, and there are better monopolies to cultivate at this point, for a politician: ones with better public image, no nasty court record, more MONEY available to give to pols.

    Bush is not going to cave to Gates: what's in it for Bush? He's only going to keep saying Darn it! If only I'd been in time! He's dumb but his people are not that kind of fool.

  • > This is weird.

    Wrong, this is a discussion. You post your opinion, you get a response. If you don't want to hear a different opinion, close your ISP account & get off the Internet.

    Or at least don't write crap in your posts to /. like the following if you want people to think about what you write:

    >> that said, i honestly think that the whole case and associted discussions should be marked 'redundant'. the government was too late, too slow, too
    >> assuming and the whole affair is [score 0, flamebait] at best.

    > Throughout your post you shred my statements and try to bend them as proof that I'm defending M$, when all I'm
    > trying to do, is adding a different perspective to the rather one-sided views that are usually posted with a firm anti-M$ undertone.

    That's a surprise to me. You're the one who repeated the inaccurate statement that Microsoft standardized the computer interface, or that MS software runs better than Open Source.

    > I'm not pro M$ nor am I anti O/S. Bothe of which you seem to take for granted. But as you are taking my sentences apart and
    > assuming that I'm trying to make M$'s case, I'll return the favour on a few selected items.

    Quoting you out of context? I did drop the last sentence to your post, but everything else appeared exactly word-for-word in the order you wrote it. I guess my quoting one of your paragraphs, then responding to that paragraph took things horribly out of context.

    But since you're only gong to respond to a selected few points of mine, you won't howl too loudly if I miss responding to a few points fo yours, will you?

    > When talking about 'support' I didn't mean what the software supports, but that M$ is responsible for whatever support they give
    > users.

    Oh yes. I don't know what country you live in, but does MS do more than contract support to some sweatshop like Stream who hires any warm body off of the street at $11 an hour to repeat ``restart, reboot, reinstall, upgrade"?

    You pay extra for support from Sun or Oracle, but at least the people there actually know something about computers, & have an inkling about how the software works. Most of the people at Microsoft have to consult third-party resources just to understand how their softwar actually works. (Andrew Schulman was surpised at how many Microsofties read his _Undocumented_DOS_ book.)

    > You are gonna point out thousands of newsgroups etc, I'm siure. But who is responsible for the info they are giving? Our Linux
    > people here spend hours after getting a 'tip' only to find out that it was non-sense.

    And how are you going to be sure that the said low-wage phone jockey is going to give you the right answer? At least the people on the newsgroups & maillists have seen the software before. Microsoft fired all of their in-house front line support people in 1995 in order to increase the corporate profit margin.

    > DOS was the standard not Windows, you say. Hey, the context of my Windows is the standard claim was clearly in regards to the
    > end-user. How many companies did send their word processing people to DOS training courses?

    DOS is entirely an end-user program. Almost no Sysadmins were ever injured in it's use.

    Q: How many sysadmins does it take to run a computer running MS-DOS?

    A: Five. One to do the work, four to keep him from formatting the hard drive & installing a real operating system.

    Numerous GUIs were written to run over MS-DOS in the late 1980s & early 1990s. The success of Windows 3.1 has been attributed as much to the fact MS required it preinstalled on every computer that shipped DOS 5.0+ as to all the other causes combined.

    > Warranties: long before the US came up with fancy laws, there was something like guild code back in Europe. People had pride in
    > any 1970 models Mercedes on the road lately?].

    Actually, I see lots of older cars out here. Pre-1970 Mustangs, for example. I was driving behind a late-1970's Camero today. We don't use salt on our roads here, so older cars can last for decades.

    > It is a definite MUST for the industry to
    > produce products with shorter life spans to sustain it's existence. If everyone would last longer then it would be a matter of time until
    > markets are saturated and producers are out of busniness.

    This is a stupid argument. ``We can't afford to have pride in our work, so we're going to make shoddy products" is what you are saying. And all along I thought Europeans had pride in their work.

    > One of the main reasons I post at /. is simply because I got a business major and am paid rather well to consult organizations on
    > questions of practicality and workability, rather than coolness and cyber-rebellion. So, I'm trying to show different points of view to
    > tech-heavy mindsets.

    Oh. Well, that explains it. Pointy Haired Boss types are the same, the world around.

    > Unfortunately, you seem to have taken me as someone on M$'s payroll.

    Funny thing is, every ex-Microsoftie or Microsoftie-wannabe I've spoken to has said the same thing you have. No waffling about ``well, we gotta do it this way because of politics" as I have heard from insiders in other companies. And it's clear where they're coming from: one ex-MS employee I was winning an argument with ended up defending his former employer by saying, ``Microsoft makes money. Unlike other companies, like Symantec."

    A MS employee ended a conversation with Edward Yourdon in his Rise & Resurrestion of the American Programmer about the resources MS spent creating a version of one of their products by stating that the software made MS hundred of millions of dollars -- who cares about metrics? It's only only one short step from not caring about metrics to not caring about bugs.

    So MS employees have their hearts & minds on the bottom line. Not on creating reliable, robust software. Which is what we need.

    > I'm also not Libertarian as you seem to presume. Heck, I'm not even American [PTL] nor am I in the U.S.

    Well, I'm not a citizen of Germany but I did vote Green Party last national election. So which country do you hail from? One of those whose hineys we saved in the last World War? Or one of those whose hineys we kicked in the same conflict?

    (If those last three sentences were too subtle for you, then parse them this way: You've demonstrated that you're a luser. Go away.)

  • > So, what does that make me? A tight-arse, pighead with an attitude?

    If the shoe fits, wear it.


  • M$ is a monolithic entity. That is its Achille's heel. Breaking it up compounds the problem by forcing it on them and they'll try to force themselves on us.

    I don't want M$ to start thinking out of the box. With luck, there'll never be a M$ product ported to any version of Unix (OS X) or Linux or to any other platform than the x86.

    Keep M$ right where they are while the rest of the world goes past 'em.
  • There is no way Bush will let the current breakup plan stand. And I don't think that he's going to be enthusiastic about regulating Microsoft in anyway. I think that this New York Times article [] which suggests letting Microsoft off with a huge fine is an all too likely possible outcome. The one saving grace may be that 19 states are also plaintiffs in the case, so as mentioned by another NYT article [], the case may still go on even when Bush caves into Gates.

    "That fat, dumb, and bald guy sure plays a mean hardball."
  • I heard that he was pushing to drop the whole thing. That M$ was going to get off scott free. Something people don't understand is that Bush is for big business. If he gets his way, and through executive orders he can do a lot, then this is going to be a rough 4 years.

    I see big business having its way and M$ is part of Big Business.

    AOL & TWC will gets its monster merger unless one decides to back out.

    AT&T .. eek I don't even want to think of what they'll do. They ate cellular one recently. Lets see now they have cell phone coverage all over the place, cable in some areas, long distance, what else....

    Think of it this way, in a society where Cable TV is many ares IS a monopoly, do you really think that anyone cares about a software company that has not destroyed ALL it's competition, but suppressed most of it? Probably NOT. Many people I know don't think that M$ should be split up anyway. I do think that Mac OS X is going to give them some competition, buyt then again M$ owns stock in Apple.

    Persoannly I see a recession coming, a really bad one that is possible going to create a 2 class society. The rich and the poor! But hopefully I am wrong.

    I don't want a lot, I just want it all!
    Flame away, I have a hose!

  • Fortunately, Bush may not have any say in it yet.

    There are lots of things that he can do. None of them can get MS off the hook because of the presence of the State Attorney Generals in the case and the fact that the trial judge would have to approve any settlement.

    The worst that the Bush Administration can do is to assign an incompetent lawyer to argue the appeal and lose it through intentional stupidity.

    But realistically, the appeal *will* be argued this winter. There isn't enough time for the Justice Department to do an about face.
  • Office? This is before MS Office. Try the early 1990s [] (see the end of the article).
  • "Just ask the drug industry and thousands of dying patients how much FDA red tape has helped them."

    You want no drug regulation, and go back to when cocaine was in "soft" drinks and doctors died of heroin overdoses? Do the words "opium den" mean anything to you? Remember the first drug war, when the U.S.A. was trying to keep the opium flowing and was using gunboats in China? (Go look up the history behind "The Sand Pebbles" instead of just watching the movie)

  • It seems to me that one of the biggest things in this whole case that M$ is doing is not publishing thier full API. That is, M$ programs have an inherent advantage over non M$ programs, because the third party programmers don't know these "secret calls."

    You mean the same way MS Excel was using undocumented O.S. routines which its competitor, Lotus 1-2-3, could not use (was it in Windows 3.1?). I think Lotus won a court case about that, although it wasn't mentioned in the MS Antitrust case.

  • Microsoft stock price [] is less than half what it was a year ago. (Note there was a split recently, so double the $46 price to $92 to compare to a year ago)
  • "However in the 20th century, certain monopolies focused on providing the best product and price to their customers. Microsoft did just that, and judging from their economic success, they accomplished this extremely well."

    This is a claim that because Microsoft made money they must be providing the best product at the best price. There is no other evidence provided of the quality of the product or the price. I consider this an Appeal to Common Practice [] or a Questionable Cause [] argument.

    My obvious counterexample is the growth of the Virus Industries, which rely upon faulty Microsoft products.

  • Do we really want our government defining and enforcing protocols and standards for operating systems, desktop software and networking protocols?
    Nope. What we want is the gubmint to require MS to publish complete specifications for THEIR protocols and formats.

    Let me take a simple example. If the complete specification for Word's file format were published would anyone have any reason not to use Word Perfect other than the quality of the software? Not if WP's implimentation were 100% compatible. Then the choice would be based on WP's features vs. Word's features.

    The key is enforcing publication, not enforcing particular standards.

  • I certainly don't. However, maybe a legal definition of what a "standard" is would be in order. That way Microsoft couldn't legally claim their products are standards compliant.

    Or maybe some method of giving "standards" some kind of status similar to trademarks. Such that an organisation could be legally prevented from using the name of a standard if they didn't comply with it.
  • Read the MBR at bootup, and if it doesn't contain Microsoft's code, tell the user there's a "boot sector virus" and Windows won't start to save the user.

    Actually that's a problem created by BIOS writers. The MS MBR abuse is the Win 9X installers which write their own code into the MBR quietly (like a virus.)
  • well...

    link 1 []

    link2 []

    how to dual boot with win2k...


  • how the hell would MS manage to end dual booting?

    no, really, i'm interested in this one... what would MS do? on boot up, when the wonderful WINDOWS screen comes up, check the boot partition, and install itself everytime?

    i cant see it happening...


  • Somebody with a debugger who knows better would catch them at it sooner or later. I don't think even Shrub could save them from the fallout THAT would generate.

  • The government could insist that any technology of Microsoft's that it uses adhere to those standards. They could furthermore insist on having NO trouble reading and EDITING documents documents made with non government versions of their products. Otherwise, it's no fat contract for you. Or, even better, the government will refuse to use ANY form of Microsoft's products unless ALL APIs and file formats are exhaustively, clearly and CORRECTLY defined. This might embolden some of Microsoft's other large customers to insist on the same thing. If this played out correctly then Microsoft doesn't have to be broken up, subjected to government oversight, or reveal their source code that no one here would want anyway.
  • No, but the government can dictate that an "independent third party" define the, say, the IETF, or W3C, or ANSI.
  • Good point. I'm thrilled that thanks to today's drug laws, heroin and cocaine are no longer a problem. And I'm sure the innocent people that get caught in the crossfire of drug dealer shootouts would have had something bad happen to them anyway, so they're better off dead. And the thousands of sick patients and their doctors that claim to need marijuana to relieve their suffering are obviously just a bunch of stoners running an elaborate scam.

    Drug laws are not and never have been primarily about public health. Narcotics laws originated due to racism and persist today because alcohol and tobacco companies don't want competition. FDA regulations are so expansive because from a bureaucrat's perspective it's better to let 1000 people die because a drug doesn't get approved in time than to have 1 person die from a drug that was approved. The latter will show up on CNN, the former won't.

  • Of course we don't want the government to define software standards--if we did that, politics would get in the way, inevitably.

    I agree. Governmental politics do not belong in the creation of standards, but that is not what scares me.

    What I find most objectionable is a government agency taking on the premise that they (FBI,CIA,NSA) belong there, and thus are inherently endowed the right to define standards (PGP) along with the right to enforce them as governmental regulations (Since no "common man" would need open DVD standards, DE-CSS - ever).

    Think about how much teeth this scenario could give to endeavors such as Carnivore, encryption craking statutes (DE-CSS) and encryption - prevention statutes (PGP would die)

  • Gah - my apologies, at a LAN party and another slashdotter at the party wrote on my machine while his was rebooting. (It's a damn good thing the contact information on here is nearly two years old, I don't need any flames.)

    Well, at least he actually made first post :D
  • What we want in software standards is exactly what we have in accounting standards--enforced by the government, but defined by the industry.

    The problem with this argument is that the software and accounting industries are fundamentally different in the dynamism of their standards.

    Accounting is, due to regulation, history, and external pressures, a largely static and conservative field. If it were not, then there would be no faith in our economy as there would be no yardstick by which to measure performance. This would cause our faith based economic system to collapse. This is the type of industry the government can effectively regulate. They are great at enforcing standards on conservative industries in which the natural movements are measured in decades and not months.

    The software industry on the other hand is fundamentally a dynamic, fast paced, and "next best thing" industry. Standards come and go with the wind as new technologies are developed, making things dreamed of only a few years earlier suddenly possible. Government does not work fast enough to keep up with this pace of change. Laws can't be passed fast enough and regulating bodies can't hold hearings quick enough to keep up. The system is too dynamic.

    Government does a great job setting and enforcing slow moving standards like "how to measure a second" and "what constitutes income". The software industry however moves too fast for the government to remain relevant and act as anything other than a drag on progress. If the converse were true, we would all be programming in ADA.

  • I understand your point. However, why not let the market do this for us. Word is case and point. Nobody is going to store a word document in a database. Distributed computing will demand that the format be parsible and well-formed. When a business would like to catagorize, search-enable and archive its docs, they won't want to use MSWord.
  • I appriciate the arguement, and recognize its temptations. However, your example, Accounting, is a classic case against government enforcement. Accouting is the most convoluted, outrageous set of standards and priciples that anyone ever could have dreamed up. While they were implemented with the best intentions, the rules of accounting have become a beaurocratic nightmare far more frightening than Microsoft. I have a hard time diferentiating enforcement from definitions. Government writes the law and enforces it.
    • Splitting up MS will divorce the interest in the different markets--thus eliminating the abuse that the government has found.

    I wonder. Will the MS app development company really be interested in competing in open standards-based application arenas? Or will they attempt to drive everyone else out of the MS-Windows application market? I'm sure that the MS OS company would have no interest whatsoever in supporting open standards in application interfaces, except perhaps for show.

    The information monopolies and their conjoined interests require new thinking, not just the "we'll break them up and let the market take care of it..." that worked with Standard Oil over a hundred years ago.

    I think new thinking should be applied to the media monopolies that are developing. For example, I think the requirement that AOL open up AIM would do a lot more to level the media playing field than to just have AOL/TW divest of a few TV stations here and there.

    I'll have to think about the article's proposals before I come to a decision. Government setting standards in certain areas can be a good thing, but there are risks of course.


  • MS Kerberos, while different from Kerberos to you and me, does comply with the Kerberos standard as defined. The Kerberos standard explicitly allows extensions of the nature that MS made to the Kerberos standard. Blame a poorly worded/written standard for that.
  • against the public good (say, raising prices to an unreasonable extent ... which MS has done.)

    Please. The claim that prices have been raised to an unreasonable extent is ridiculous at best. Remember who the competition was? SCO, SunOS and Apple. Windows was always MUCH cheaper than the effective cost of either of those operating systems - and still is. Oracle software sells for millions of dollars v/s the hundreds of dollars that SQL Server costs. Would you prosecute any of those companies for price gouging? Classical economics fails for software because the supply curve is essentially flat. Yes, the software probably costs more than you and I want to pay for it but so does a lot of stuff. Just because it's not tangible (just bits on a CD) doesn't inherently mean it lacks value.

  • Look up public records of campaign contributions. Microsoft has given very little money (in the greater scheme of things) to the Bush campaign.
  • Umm.. the last split in MSFTs stock was in April 1999. Not exactly recent.
  • Now that Dubya won, er stole the election, the federal portion of the M$ case is a good as dead. They will quietly drop their appeal, and it will be up to the states to pursue it. In the meantime, many so-called experts (read: the punditocracy) are saying that the market has magically become more competitive, and a remedy of divestiture is not needed. It's total BS, as any economist worth his salt will tell you, but the public believes USA Today over economists any day...

    I wouldn't be surprised if the case just goes away. If, by some divine act, it eventually ends up before the Supreme Kangaroo Court, I can just imagine what the current corporatist justices would do to it...especially if Shrub gets to appoint a few more Clarence Thomas or Scalia types...

  • Getting changes to the standard approved would probably take much too long (how long has it been since the last revision of, say, Postscript, or the X protocol?). While there are definitely some good points for it, it also slows down additions of new features. Not always a good thing.
  • Read the MBR at bootup, and if it doesn't contain Microsoft's code, tell the user there's a "boot sector virus" and Windows won't start to save the user.

    Block everything else, market it as protecting the user -- has been done before.
  • It's a good idea, but it has its problems.
    What if YourOffice 1.0 adds a new feature that needs to be stored in the document?
    Either you break the standard, or you extend it.
    If extending it is allowed, Microsoft will abuse it by finding some excuse for storing everything in vendor extensions.
  • We do have a government-approved standard. It is called Ada [].

    This would be just like Ada, except that it would cover every conceivable standard!
    And, best of all, there is no escape!

  • The crux of the issue: Who controls the standards. Microsoft has yet to comply with any standard I know of. Microsoft instead uses "innovative" (yeah right Bill) alterations to exclude compatability (ie Win2K Kerberos). Microsoft even dragged its feet to get on board with TCP/IP (IMHO). What about the blatant failure to fully implement JAVA so as to promote their own software development. And most importantly, the supposed collaboration between Microsoft and INTEL on the PIII. Ask 3Com what they think of Microsofts "open standards development (ie NDIS). The only way to provide for a level playing ground is to split the Applications from the OS and provide true open application interface standards. The divorce needs to be so complete so that the only way the two can talk is through an OS/Application open standards organization (as yet non-existant) that would include multiple OS platforms and application developers. This could also preclude a future case with AOL. If there is any item that I've brought up that you don't have a background on then you need to do some serious research to understand the true insideous nature of the OS/Application monopoly.
  • "Microsoft has been willing to relinquish control of some interfaces (e.g., Interactive Messaging, XML, Universal Plug and Play, etc.) to expand their markets."

    How does Microsoft have control over any of these interfaces?
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • There are lots of significant problems with allowing proprietary formats becoming standards - besides the competition thingy. One of these is the inevitable change and evolution of formats which may break backward compatibility, specificly .DOCument formats. Thus, old - but still important information - cannot be read using current applications. You are then left at the mercy of the company that made the format in the first place to provide you with the tools or specs for doing so, if they still exist.

    Specification of standards should be - and is - available for anyone who needs them, and everyone should be - and is - able to use them in their own implementation. Standard formats specs should be reviewed by an independant organization to ensure implementation-independant comformity. Therefore MS document formats cannot be considered "standard".

    It is in most peoples interest that the information they intend to make public is accessible to everyone in their target audience - regardless of the platform they choose.

    This is increasingly important as the internet grows older and the wealth of information increases. There will be more documents and information in old formats laying around. It is in most peoples interests that old information which may still be of value and importance is accessible without having to pay someone for deciphering.

    Just my 2 cents worth..

  • While I'm not a big fan of government intervention, regulation of 'embrace and extend' practices on the procedural level (i.e. you can't do it to a `sanctioned' standard EVER, whether or not it constitutes an anti-trust violation or not) wouldn't be so bad as long as the gov't wasn't involved in setting the standard.

    Basically preventing Microsoft from calling `MS Kerberos' Kerberos. There would need to be some indication that it was different. We can descend into largely useless debates about whether or not Microsoft's implementation is within the scope of the standard or not (as that arguement CAN be made), but I don't think that it moves the discussion forward. The Kerberos issue may not be the best example, but it comes readily to most trying to have this discussion.

    You do run into problems with enforcement in cases like the SQL standard. Nearly every RDBMS or ORDBMS expands on the SQL standard or fails to fully implement it. As it is common practice in that application industry, it is taken for granted that special care be needed to make code portable. HTML is another issue in much the same case as SQL, though I don't seem myself complaining about mandating that browsers support w3 standards.


  • Okay, so what standards have they subverted? HTML is an obvious answer, but then again, who hasn't subverted HTML? I believe Netscape veered from the standard before Microsoft did.

    I don't believe that Microsoft has tinkered with any of the other standards I mentioned. ASCII and UTF are supported by Microsoft in their original forms. HTTP obviously. XML was co-authored by Microsoft, so their support for the standard is implicit.

    I understand that MS development tools have not fully embraced the ANSI/ISO C/C++ revisions, but then again, neither has gcc.

    On the whole, it doesn't really appear that Microsoft is any better or any worse than their competitors when it comes to the key protocol standards.

  • but Microsoft's declaration of RTF as a cross-platform document spec

    They made no such claim.

    For what its worth, RTF has already been consigned to the dustbin of history, and MS itself is pushing XML for the type of applications RTF was once used for.


    From what I can see, they support all the important standards. What standards of note would people see Microsoft operating systems support?

  • Maybe a little Off the immediate topic but..

    Does anyone else get the idea that Linux will be the number one defense M$ will have when trying to defend itself from the anti-trust advocates?
    Im sure M$'s market position would have even allowed them to embrace/extend/extinguish Linux in some way (making dual booting impossible would be a good method to slow/halt adoption for private use...)

    Does anyone else feel now that the BSA has elected Republicans which are even greater corporate $whores$ than their predecessors - when the Anti-Trust suit gets dropped we will expect to see M$'s real reply to Linux.. weather that be a Linux Compat. Layer, or a M$ Linux distro (*shudder*) or ?????.

    What Im saying is this is basically the calm before the storm for Linux...
    How long did M$ take to marginalize OS2 - and OS2 had the full backing of IBM... I recognize that GNU/Linux has strengths that OS2 (and Windows) will never have (using the present proprietary SW models) but M$ will surely think of something... what will that be? Dont say this dotNet crap...

  • From what I can see, they support all the important standards.

    Don't you mean, they embrace all the important standards. And extend them to be incompatible.

    If they supported standards, they would make an effort to be as interoperable as possible, instead of trying to undermine interoperability.
  • Under Bush, Wintel will be broken into two seperate corporations: one which monopolizes the hardware, and one which monopolizes the software.

    There. That should remedy all those monopoly problems.
  • There's nothing wrong with a monopoly. the problem is when that monopoly is used against the public good (say, raising prices to an unreasonable extent, or leveraging the monopoly to a different market sector--both of which MS has done.)

    Splitting up MS will divorce the interest in the different markets--thus eliminating the abuse that the government has found. "Windows, Inc." can be a monopoly all it wants--but it can't use its justly owned monopoly in an abusive manner. After all, they can't help it if no one can compete. *grin*
  • that some of the 'standards' do need to be made open in order to encourage competition. If Microsoft isn't required to open up some of these standards, how are competiters supposed to compete?

    If the only company that knows the 'best' ways to interact with the OS is Microsoft Applications (or whatever the company is named), then you might as well not split the company up.

    Eric Gearman
  • Hmmmm, let's look:
    • Scripting Languages
      • Microsoft JScript - While it is compliant with ECMAscript, it extends that functionality to prevent competing scripting languages to provide the same level of functionality. This essentially breaks any real compliance with the ECMA standard.
      • PERL - Open Source scripting language that is THE standard for scripting on the Web - regardless of what any "standards" organization may say about. More web site administrators use PERL then any other scripting language.
    • C Derived OOP Languages
      • C and C++ - Created in 1967, C was implemented to provide a programing language that could be implemented across a wide variety of architectures. C, and it's decendent, C++ have become the defacto standard in programming applications that may need to be recompiled on various platforms.
      • Microsoft "C hash" - Hey, any Hacker worth half his weight knows that # is a "hash", and not a "sharp". Here is a language that can only available on one platform: Windows. Due to this limitation, it will never be adopted as a true standard.
    • Language Runtimes
      • PERL and Python - Both are open source technologies that work well cross platform.
      • Microsoft .NET runtime - Still in Vapor

    Remember, there is a big difference between having some organization stamp it's approval on a piece of software and claiming that it is a "standard" and having the programing community actually use your software (which is where real standards show themselves.)
    Microsoft has consistenty fought against true standards with it's "embrace and extend" strategy. Microsoft simply has the muscle to get it products declared a standard before it's competition can see it coming - hence Netscape's JavaScript is considered proprietary (even though it is open souce) and Microsoft's JScript is considered a Standard (even though it is closed source).
    What's more, having your programing languages declared a standard by the ECMA is totally meaningless to me. I don't live in Europe.
  • Microsoft? Adhere to standards?


    You'd be better off just leaving Microsoft alone... they will kill themselves off eventually.
  • The article looks great. Really it does. But unfortunately, you would have to be absolutely ignorant of the way that Microsoft does business in order to even begin to believe this proposed "solution."

    Open standards are great. They are wonderful things. They are also very common and popular things that are supported by just about every hardware and software company in existence. Including Microsoft.

    Take for example the web browser. MSIE supports all the open standards regarding html, Java, etc. But then they go one step further an add additional functionality to the standards to create their own brand of "standard." Just look at the MS/Sun Java case. Microsoft's policy has always been "embrace and extend." Embrace the standard and extend it to meet their own ends. One could create an open standard for every Windows API, but that wouldn't stop Microsoft from extending the API ahead of any standards. (and while we're at it, isn't an API a standard anyway?)

    The problem with standards is that standards bodies are usually too slow to react to rapidly changing market conditions. Even if you propose it yourself, you could end up waiting many months or years before a standard could be created and approved to deal with your specific issues or needs. In that same time, you could have written something to do it "your way" and gone through a couple revisions (especially with software). Is it really practical to have to always wait?

    But ASS-uming that this suggestion of enforced open standards actually COULD have some effect, it's not the effect that we want. So Microsoft has "open standards and API's" and now everybody can write compatible code (as if they couldn't now). How does that address the real issues of the monopoly abuses? Access to undocumented API calls was just a small slice of the pie. MS would still have their dominant position. They would still be bundling products. They would still be forcing vendors to sell a Windows license with every PC sold, They would still be threatening vendors not to pre-install the competition's software. The proposed "standards resolution" does nothing to prevent all but the least significant of abuses brought forward in this case.

    It's almost as if these two profs are arguing that if there were open standards created for everything in Windows that somebody would sit down and code a 100% compatible "windows clone". ASS-uming that there were a 100% compatible "windows clone," who would buy it when you're stuck paying for Windows and getting it pre-installed on your system anyways? If the the two OS's can do the same thing, then there is no incentive to switch, is there? IBM produced a version of OS/2 that was completely compatible with Windows (in fact, it basically had all the Windows code built-in), and how much of a market force did that become? It was a niche product at best.
  • by llywrch ( 9023 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @09:19AM (#1416875) Homepage Journal
    > frankly, i think the 'article' raises some interesting points, and most /dotters don't understand them.

    Frankly, your response is exactly what any Microsoftie would say in response to criticism of MS. Let's analyse your arguments.

    > let's see. most of the comments here immediately take the 'force M$ into O/S' position, others keep more in line with the article regarding 'standards'.

    >well, how about crediting M$ with making the computer revoltion possible in the first place? how many of us would have our type of job today if it
    > wasn't for windows spreading computer use globally? sure, standards and lower hardware prices play an important role as well, but if M$ hadn't
    > set a standard all by itself [Windows], then we'd still be battling with interfacing VAX and NIXes and apples [mcintosh platform] would be
    > sparesly spread in some well to do households.

    The usual argument is that by creating *DOS*, MS created a standard. This poster points to one of the GUI interfaces for DOS as being the standard-setter, which is odd: by that point, the de facto PC hardware standard had already been created, based around an Intel processor, ISA bus, either IDE or SCSI peripheral intefaces, & the limit of 16 IRQs. This was not only MS's choice, but also a certain computer company known as IBM.

    Then again, the software APIs did change somewhat between standalone DOS & Win 3.1, then again with Win 95, & again (most noticeably) with Win NT. But it has been documented that every time MS changed the API, another group of independant software vendors writing to the DOS/Windows API went out of business, unable to make the port to a new API & compete with MS at the same time.

    Whether this was the intent of MS's upgrade has been hotly debated.

    And what's so bad with VMS or UNIX, anyway? Both are reliable, robust OSes that banks & industry have used for years. And people with minimal training use every day.

    > give M$ some credit, for chip's sake.

    For what? MS does not innovate, it merely sees which way the industry is trending, then runs hard to make it look as if they are leading -- but leading in their own, twisted way. Remember artificial intelligence? Back in the early 1990's, this was supposed to be the Next Big Thing. MS got into this in & produced . . . Microsoft Bob, which was later salvaged as the paperclip in MS Word that everyone hates.

    MS Kerberos & the brain-dead implimentation of DNS in Win 2000 is only the latest in a long line of puzzling design choices.

    I find your typo ``computer revoltion" in that sense very apropo -- MS has made this indeed a computer revulsion!

    > that said, i honestly think that the whole case and associted discussions should be marked 'redundant'. the government was too late, too slow, too
    > assuming and the whole affair is [score 0, flamebait] at best.

    Another typical MS response. ``This is boring, nothing insightful, nothing to see, it's all past history, let's move along with our lives."

    I find it hard to debate an issue with someone who is too arrogant to even acknowledge you have a right to a different opinion on the matter.

    > think about it. if the purpose was to shake M$ and scare them into rethinking their strategy, then the mission is partly accomplished. but breaking
    > them up now, where new technologies and the internet give them a run for their money anyway, is somewhat childish.

    Another typical MS response. ``Okay, we know we shoulda listened to Big Government, & now they have our attention. So let's knock off all this talk of punishing us. We just want to innovate & create good software."

    [Yes, I know this poster didn't write that last sentence -- but Bill Gates did say it in response to the Antitrust case.]

    > will the o/s-linux community come up with the next big thing? will they spend billions on developping and supporting [especially supporting] a
    > standard setting innovation that is available to non-nerds at a low price?

    MS has never innovated. Gates was asked point-blank once what innovation MS ever created, & he could only answer feebly that only their business model was an innovation. I guess if your business model is to gut your competition over creating a better product, this might be an innovation. But governments have done this in times of total war since history was first written.

    As for supporting a standard, Linux & *BSD both support the next generation of TCPIP & SMP already. MS is just making promises that they will.

    And I won't touch on how MS implimented Kerberos or DNS.

    > M$ certainly has it's flaws and bullying is never a good thing. But now, the public/states are using M$ strategies to force changes that are not
    > necessarily beneficial to consumers. Or how would you call the use of state monopoly on power to inflict changes on a company - and millions of
    > users?

    Another typical MS argument: ``Private industry makes mistakes, but would you trust the government to make the right decision?"

    I find it interesting that frequently, after finding private industry has mismanaged delivering services to the public, the state has had to step in time & again to enforce standards. Or would you like to go back to the days before the FDA was created & use medicines laced with opiates, milk of unknown purity, & other products misrepresented as being good& beneficial for the consumer?

    And I find it ironic that all of these apologists for Microsoft are avowed Libertarians when their boss Bill Gates is clearly a Limousine Liberal.

    > finally, who is holding car manufacturers responsible for the fact that things start to break down and need replacement just as the warranties run out?

    Before the government cracked down on them, car manufacturers offered no warranties at all. It wasn't that long ago when if you bought a new
    car, drove it off the lot, & the front wheel fell off, all you got from the dealer or manufacturer was a lot of sympathy.

    In case you don't understand, a warrantee means the purchase will last for THAT set amount of time. It will start to degrade after that time. you are arguing over a very stupid point.

    > shipping software with bugs and making money on service packs is what pays the high development costs in redmond. nobody forces anyone to run
    > with faulty new M$ software.

    I haven't heard that argument from any MS apologist before. Probably because it is true: if MS released reliable software, they would make less money. It is to their benefit to write substandard software, & make the public debug it for them. No apologist would unwisely make a statement that could be turned against her or him.

    > I convinced management at our company to run Win95 OSR2 on desktops and NT4 IIS4 on servers.
    > no blue screens in months.

    I guess you avoid that by rebooting & reinstalling frequently. And reinstalling when some cracker roots your webserver.

    > given development times, all you gotta do, is wait for M$ to release SP3 or 4 and then upgrade and you got a reasonably stable platform to work
    > with. our three linux nerds in the trial department are too busy messing with the o/s to really produce anything else for them company.

    This is a non sequitor, at best a troll to get people to respond with how reliable Windows is over Linux. I should ignore it, but I can't help myself.

    Yes, there are incompetent Linux admins. Yes, it can be installed wrong, insecurely, & run inefficiently. And there are inappropriate implentations for Linux -- sometimes Solaris or *BSD are clearly better solutions. Given the number of idiots out there, msiuse of Linux somewhere is inevitable.

    But in my experience, it is far easier to diagnose & fix problems under Linux or any UNIX variant than under Windows. Vague error messages, incompletely documented interfaces & applications, & millions of lines of spaghetti code that functions thru amazingly weird kludges only lengthen the diagnosis process. And MS's own support people are either $10.-- an hour sweatshop workers who have no idea of what to do beyond ``Reboot, reinstall, blame the hardware" -- or MSCEs who know their books better than their computers.

    If you haven't had Windows crashed on you, you haven't pushed it at all. And I speak as someone who spent several hours getting _The_Sims_ to work on my wife's computer yesterday -- about as long than it took me to get sendmail to function, for God's sake. And sendmail hasn't crashed my Linux box once, where this game locked her computer several times.

    And if you are happy with MS solutions, then you are in a minority. Studies have shown that Linux & BSD installations are growing in both number & market share. And Apache has 60% of the web server market share to IIS's 20%. All of this without any organized marketing push.

  • by Snowfox ( 34467 ) <> on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @05:53AM (#1416876) Homepage

    The most important point the paper makes is this:

    ... Information-based monopolies now maintain their markets by controlling the interfaces they have promoted ... through

    Hence the popular argument that splitting up MS may accomplish nothing. MS is a monopoly, but the solution is not the traditional solution. A new type of monopoly requires a new type of resolution.

  • by mwalker ( 66677 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @07:47AM (#1416877) Homepage
    ...and a very well written paper.

    It could have done a better job addressing the primary Microsoft strategy towards open standards:

    embrace, extend, destroy.

    1: Embrace: fund the standard (perl, kerberos) and make it a vital part of your OS. Get a large user base to follow you.

    2: Extend: create "extensions" to the standard which are trade secrets, which no one else can implement.

    3: Destroy: Leverage your userbase, using your new extensions, to destroy the old userbase. The standard is now closed.

    This is a very difficult strategy to implement, and Microsoft is a master at it. Don't say they don't know how to innovate- they are brilliant criminals. Look at the AARD detection code! A self-modifying, debugger-defeating virus built into an OS. Now that's innovation!

    The point here is that Open Standards are not enough. Microsoft has a lot of brilliant developers, and even if you have a nice open standard, it doesn't help if Microsoft releases a new "open standard" - government approved, mind you - every week. This is called "churn", and it means introducing artificially new technology every two years (95, 98, 2000, blah blah, new paperclip) and forcing your users to upgrade (subscription model). If you can develop new open standards faster than the world can keep up, you've beaten this system.

    Never underestimate Microsoft. The world is littered with the corpses of companies that did.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @07:09AM (#1416878) Homepage Journal
    Back when the internet was coming into the public awareness, Microsoft dicked with PPP. This had an immediate effect on OS/2 -- users dialing in to a MS based machine would not be able to connect with OS/2 because the MS PAP authentication confused the OS/2 PPP dialer. Linux had the same exact problem. This was eventually fixed, but a lot of damage was done due to perceived reliability issues among the users.

    They must break ASCII or all those HTML pages written in MS Word would use the correct character for ' instead of ?. I've had a friend complain that connecting to an MS POP server was difficult from his UNIX box (Around the same time as the PPP issues) but I've never done that so I can't comment there.

    They've got their dirty little fingers in many of the content streaming protocols coming out now too. With their patented IP in the protocol spec (Don't get me started on patented stuff in "open" specifications) they can guarentee that their OS is required to view any sort of streaming content in the future. I'd be willing to bet that they come up with a web page delivery system that tunnels through one of those proprietary "standards" too, making it increasingly difficult to view any content storted on a MS box using a non-MS client. That's just "Competitive" and "Innovative" behavior after all.

  • by Ereth ( 194013 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @09:32AM (#1416879) Homepage
    A computer is only as useful as the software that is on it. During the Home Computer Wars of the 80's, there were many different, incompatible computers, and developers often ported their software between them, adding or removing features as needed for the hardware. Some ports were better than others and some never happened at all. "Find the software you want to run, then buy the hardware that runs it" became the mantra of the day, prior to the a priori establishment of the IBM PC as a "standard".

    Once the IBM AT became the defacto standard in 1985, hardware became a commodity. You could buy hardware from anybody and it would run DOS (and later Windows) and all applications. While the other computers still existed, the volume of software being developed for them diminished. Larger volumes of PC-compatible computers drew the developers to that larger market and they abandoned (nearly) all of the alternatives. Apple itself was nearly gone, except Microsoft propped it up for a while to ensure that they could point at Apple and remind people that they were not a monopoly.

    It is not required to have 100% of a market to be a monopoly, only such a large portion of the market that you can dictate to others what they do. Microsoft used unethical tactics to eliminate competitors to MS-DOS, and did the same for Windows. Developers who wanted to sell into the 100 Million plus machine markets were forced to write for a Microsoft OS. Because the other markets were smaller, many orders of magnitude less software were written. Microsoft had attained "critical mass" where they no longer had to make their OS better, because their OS had all the applications. This is self-replicating. A new developer, seeking a profitable product, can write for the Mac, and sell a few million units, if he's incredibly successful, or sell 100 times as many in the Windows market, if he's moderately successful.

    It's this mind-share that makes Microsoft a monopoly and puts the lie to your statement that "People use MS Products because they have freely chosen to". Most consumers, buying a home computer, walk into a store and are sold a Windows machine without ever once being given the opportunity to make a choice. Usually, if they are given a choice, it's something along the lines of "Ok, the software for the Mac is along these 2 rows, the software for Linux you have to download over the Internet, or you can buy any of the thousands of titles we have in the rest of this store if you buy a Windows machine".

    They didn't buy Microsoft because they LIKED Microsoft. They bought it because there is no real choice. I'm writing this on a Windows NT machine (though I'm a UNIX Admin by profession) because my employer insists on Exchange and Outlook for corporate mail. I am being forced to use MS products, despite your claims to the contrary.

    Many software titles that I wish to run, only run on Windows. There is no other platform that will run Everquest, so Verant is forcing me to use an MS product on my home gaming computer.

    Not all of us have the strength of character of Richard Stallman to simply eliminate non-free software from our lives. Functionality that exists, not in any Microsoft product itself, but in an application that only runs on a Microsoft OS force you to make that choice over and over.

    It's those decisions, that add up, over and over, that force people into running Microsoft products (not to mention that until the Anti-trust suit you couldn't BUY a computer from a major vendor without Windows installed, even if you didn't WANT Windows! Dell, Compaq, Gateway, ALL forced customers to pay for Windows. Even now, if you are a corporate customer with a site license for multiple copies of Windows, you have to pay for Windows that comes on the new machine (that you are going to erase) AND you have to pay (in most cases) for the use of the site license (that you'd already paid for).

    Microsoft just recently announced the elimination of Volume Pricing for Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME, beginning early 2001, forcing corporations to buy the more expensive Windows 2000, even if they don't need it.

    Predatory pricing and forced installs DO happen. If you like MS products that's fine, but you can't ignore their anti-competitive behavior.

    Microsoft was in the right place at the right time and made some products that made them successful (Excel rightfully pulled market dominance from Lotus 1-2-3). That doesn't mean that haven't abused their market position, engaged in predatory and anti-competitive tactics.

    I WANT Microsoft to make Excel. I even want them to make Windows. What I don't want them to be able to do is pick a company at random and simply drive them out of business by including that companies technology in their base OS and claiming it can't be removed, so that the company has nobody to sell it's products to (remember when everybody had QEMM, because you needed it? Or how about Norton Utilities to defrag your hard drive? And we don't even want to talk about how they dealt with hard drive compression)!

    On topic with the original subject, however, I don't think anybody will be successful in forcing Microsoft to adhere to open standards. They can't do Kerberos right and they have a long history of nodding and saying they are going to do just what you ask them to, and then doing something else. Microsoft WANTS vendor lockin, and they NEED it for their business model to work. And they will continue to fight being brought into a competitive marketplace with every tool at their disposal, including out and out lies and disregard for government orders.

  • by mgkimsal2 ( 200677 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @07:07AM (#1416880) Homepage

    HTML - I think would have something to say about MS' support of HTML 'standards'. There are published specifications about how HTML should work. They don't adhere to those standards. Should they or shouldn't they is another debate, but they don't.

    MARQUEE - 'standard' tag in HTML? Yes, NS had 'blink' and got yelled at for it to, from a 'standards' POV

    SSL - ack - I can't find the URL. We were just tracking down SSL problems in the latest IE last week. OK, OK, maybe not a full 'standards' issue, but someone was monkeying around with something to make something as basic as encryption which USED to work in a product NOT work in an upgrade. (cheap shot, yes, but the sites we were reasearching this on were coming to the same conclusion).

    HTTP - Our HTTP headers indentifying pages we were creating as 'gzipped' quit working in later versions of IE (something like IE 5.00.2610 and below worked - above didn't). Either they DIDN'T support the HTTP protocal re: GZIP before then, and fixed it, breaking our scheme, or they DID work, and broke it. Our code didn't change - just versions of IE. Which was it? They were broke and fixed it, or worked before and purposefully 'enhanced' it to not work with the same headers which used to work?

    Kerberos - I need say no more than go read some old slashdot articles on this topic.

    These are just a few examples of 'standards' where MS wasn't quite up to par. Whether or not they SHOULD be is a different point.
  • by mwillems ( 266506 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @07:26AM (#1416881) Homepage
    The sad thing is, Microsoft is standards. It's the only reason they are big. De facto standards are still standards, however many committees would like us to believe otherwise.

    I have been using PCs since the early 80s - the CP/M days and even before. The major drag then was 'no standards'. You could not transfer a document from one OS to another - forget it, you could not even move a floppy from one machine to another. Or a casette tape. Or address a serial port in the same way on two machines. Etc.

    When Wintel appeared and became popular, this changed - big time. Suddenly we could all share commands, floppies, documents, code... it was great.

    And this is still the case. At work, all our tech guys use Linux machines. But they run VMWARE on top, because everything you do in a business environment involves MS.

    When someone sends you a resume, it is in Word format. A spreadsheet, in Excel. A presentation, in powerpoint. A database, in access format. I work with people all over the world and it's simple, this is the standard.

    People want standards. Me too. Sure, I can accept a Wordperfect resume, and spend an hour cursing trying to convert it to some other format - inevitably this takes and hour and only partially works. So do I want to keep life simple, or spend that hour? The former: all resumes must be in Word or ASCII format.

    In Linux too: do I want to stick with RedHat or use a 'better' distri? Go to deja and ask a question and 7/10 answers are about RH. So that is my Linux standard.

    What I am saying is, standards are good, becasue they enable faster growth - and they are made 'de facto', not by committeees. Don't knock it: people will always take the easiest way.



  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Wednesday December 27, 2000 @05:54AM (#1416882)
    Do we really want our government defining and enforcing protocols and standards for operating systems, desktop software and networking protocols? I'm no fan of Microsoft, but keep the government out of protocols and standards. I don't want to "elect" the best operating system, the best network protocol, the best script language, etc.
  • Of course we don't want the government to define software standards--if we did that, politics would get in the way, inevitably. What we want in software standards is exactly what we have in accounting standards--enforced by the government, but defined by the industry.

    The government decided that there had to be standards after the 1920s fall, AND they do it intelligently--they have the various people in the market get together and agree on the standards, and then they enforce them.

    And in software, we wouldn't be choosing the best method, we'd be choosing the standard method. If you have a better method, use that and convice people to switch.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears